How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. Kara Your Own Question
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 18990
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
Type Your Dog Question Here...
Dr. Kara is online now

My dog is 6 years old never had a litter but is having a phantom

Customer Question

My dog is 6 years old never had a litter but is having a phantom pregnancy again her teats are large producing milk she's quite lethargic is urinating a lot and her stools can be quite sloppy and foamy at times
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 4 years ago.
Hello, my name is Dr. Kara and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that Jen has experienced multiple false pregnancies, but this one sounds a bit different given that she is lethargic, urinating more and having loose stools.

These symptoms may point to a uterine infection called a pyometra. Uterine infections tend to occur a month to three months after a heat cycle, just like false pregnancies. Pyometras can rupture, causing peritonitis and/or the infection can spread to her other organs leading to abscesses in her kidneys, liver spleen and even her heart valves. The toxic metabolites from the infection affect her appetite and cause her to drink lots of water, thus urinate more.

Antibiotics alone do not work to treat these infections as they have poor penetration into an infection filled uterus and do not address the pool of infectious material and toxins in her uterus. We sometimes use prostaglandin injections and combination antibiotics in dogs that owners want to breed another time, but the success rate is variable. And even if it works if she isn't bred successfully on the next heat the chances of the infection returning are very high.

The sooner that this is addressed the better chance she has of doing well. Treatment is stabilizing her with intravenous fluids and antibiotics and surgery to remove the infected uterus. The longer that you wait the more opportunity this infection has to spread and the more difficult it will be to save her.

The other possible causes of the symptoms that you are seeing, increased water consumption and urination with lethargy, include diabetes, kidney or liver disease or a severe urinary tract infection. If this isn't a uterine infection I would be very suspicious of diabetes only because we know fluctuations in hormones during and after a heat cycle, especially with false pregnancy, can interfere with normal glucose metabolism and precipitate diabetes.

I recommend that you have her seen immediately by her veterinarian or by an emergency clinic if it is after hours and you have access to one. As sick as she is waiting to have her seen is very dangerous. I generally like to give home therapy options if I feel that they are useful and practical but in Jen's case waiting any longer to have her examined and treated is counterproductive.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.